In my long-ago days, when I was in the US Navy
, we were cruising
up in the northern Persian Gulf
. This was after we had some firefight
s with Iraq
, but long before Desert Storm
. My job was fixing the electronics
on our two helicopter
s. We had a great detachment, and all of the officer/pilots were decent folks that you could joke
Two pilots in particular were very jovial. They were both the tallest pilots I ever knew, and both must have had a waiver to fly. Mr. D and Mr. K both flew as a team, and they'd pull jokes on you when things were slow. Unfortunately things were very hot because of some firefights that day in our area. We were by a large barge in the very northern portion of the Gulf. It was used as a landing pad for some helicopters, and probably was eyeballing the Iraquis with some electronics.
The ship had an officer that nobody liked. Officer L was ignored even by his peers. He took it out on the enlisted guys that worked for him, and they all cursed his name. This gent was also one of the flight officers, and he directed the helicopter to places that the ship wanted scoped.
One evening, one of the helicopters was out for a long time, and they had burned up quite a bit of fuel. They called in to be vectored to the boat to get refueled. Since we were in a hot situation, the ship ran without running lights, just like the helicopter.
Officer L was the flight controller that evening. He directed the helicopter in on a flight path, and switched on to mast beacon. The flight deck team was sitting in the hangar, listening to the radio chatter.
"You're about six miles out, watch for the mast light," said Officer L.
"Roger on the mast light, we see it, vectoring in," answered Mr. D.
We sat around, discussing who was going to go on refueling detail. Luckily I was an upper enlisted rank, so that job fell to the junior worker-bees.
"You are four miles out," said Officer L.
"Are you sure? The mast light looks very close, less than two miles," answered Mr. D.
"You are on course, continue descending," said Officer L dryly.
I went and got the crypto gun to reload the helicopter should the codes drop. I had some unresolved problems with this helicopter, which included intermittant code voiding.
"You are two miles out, continue descent," droned Officer L.
"Negative, you are not two miles out. We're very close, almost on top of you," saif Mr. D. You could hear the doubt in his voice.
"You are two miles out, continue descent," repeated Officer L.
"Fuck that," said Mr. K. "Pull up now."
Some yelling followed, then cursing. Not the normal cursing, but the cursing of someone who was angry enough to kill. You could almost see the vitrol spew from the hangar speakers, and Mr. D and Mr. K were very pissed off. Everyone was nervous, since we had a helicopter coming in with two six foot six inch plus guys with an attitude.
They came in at an angle, not straight. They landed quickly, then shut down the engines. This should've been a refuel and go, but they landed and cut.
Before the rotors were stopped, Mr. D. had hopped out of the helicopter and was literally pushing people aside as he stormed into the ship. Mr. K. followed as soon as the helo was secured, about two minutes later. Mr. D went to Ops and picked up Officer L six inches off of the floor by his collar. The ops team jumped on Mr D before he could connect with a pan-sized fist. They also had to restrain Mr. K when he arrived.
It turned out that Officer L had directed the helo to descend while the barge was between them and the ship. They saw the crane scaffolding pass under the helo as they banked, barely missing it with the rotors. Had they not been awake and aware, they would've both been killed by an imbecile.
Mr. D had a letter placed in his record for assaulting Officer L, who was relieved as flight officer. The other flight officer had to train someone, and the pilots helped to pick Officer L's replacement. They didn't want to place their lives in the hands of an idiot again.